A Liberal Party digital marketing image from the lead-up to the 2019 election (Image: Liberal Party)

Scott Morrison’s surprise election win has made the Liberal Party backroom a real shop window for conservative parties hoping to pull off a miraculous victory of their own.

First Isaac Levido quit as the party’s deputy director to become director of politics and campaigning for British Prime Minister and giant scarecrow baby Boris Johnson. Now, the Nine Papers are reporting that “digital gurus” Sean Topham and Ben Guerin have been snapped up by the Tories in preparation for the UK election. The two are former members of the New Zealand Young Nationals (Topham was president), and helmed the digital strategy credited with getting through to voters in the lead-up to the Coalition’s shock victory.

But if you think the names Topham and Guerin sound familiar for reasons other than slick vision statements or those boomer memes, it may be from their association with Lynton Crosby’s firm CTF Partners (co-founded by Mark Fullbrook, who took leave to run Johnson’s campaign to be Conservative leader). Topham and Guerin worked for CTF for a time prior to starting with the Liberal Party. A piece from August this year, alleging a “misogynist” culture at the firm, highlighted allegations made against Topham:

“Topham gained a reputation for misogyny within the company, according to three former staff members, who said at one point he celebrated the fact a woman had been forced out of the office as a ‘confirmed kill’, a military term supposedly referencing a person shot by a sniper. He was also accused of celebrating the departure of a number of women from CTF’s Sydney office.”

Topham, through his lawyer, denied the allegations, while Crosby’s lawyers said The Guardian “had been misled by ‘disgruntled individuals’ providing ‘false and highly defamatory information'”.

A Liberal Party spokesperson expressed no such concerns, greeting news of the pair’s move to the Tories by calling them “a savvy and professional team and excellent to work with”.

And of course, this talent swap hasn’t been one sided. Who can forget Queensland Senator James “let them go if they don’t like it here” McGrath, who previously served as a strategist for Johnson during his time as mayor of London. McGrath’s contribution to public debate now includes calling protesting school kids “selfish gits” who “don’t have jobs”, as well as a genuinely unsettling number posts about roadkill.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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